Every Monday evening between 9 and 10 UK Money Bloggers hold a twitter chat #MondayMoneyUK its a highlight of my week! A group of us UK money bloggers get together on Twitter and do what we love most; chat about all things money. We try to give as many helpful tips and as much advice as possible on the weeks topic. There are always some amazing tips put forward by the community, I am honoured to be a part of it.
Managing your money at university
Last weeks Twitter chat run by the lovely Lotty was on the topic of university so I thought I would put together my own Top Tips to help those of you headed to university this year.
#1 Don’t blow your student loan
So you’ve been paid your student maintenance loan and it feels like it is burning a hole in your pocket… That new shiny MacBook Pro is looking real tempting… STOP!
Did you know that 46% of all students admit to blowing all or most of their loan on luxuries? The £8k (£10k within London) you get wired into your bank account may seem like a small fortune but remember it has to last you a minimum of 30 weeks (depending on individual universities) It works out to be around £266 per week (£333 in London) and has to cover all your living costs including accommodation! During your first year you’re most likely to stay on site in Halls of Residence so your accommodation costs alone are going to be between around £80 and £160 per week. It’s enough to live on if you don’t waste it.
#2 Budget, Budget, Budget
Budgeting can seem quite scary when you first move out of home, it can be overwhelming and you might be tempted to bury your head in the sand or think you can just wing it but that is just a recipe for disaster. It is much better to plan ahead and work out a budget and stick to it. The key to a good budget is to be realistic, you are not going to be able to last a whole year on value baked beans and super noodles, you’ll end up with massive cravings and waste a huge chunk of change on an expensive takeaway.
Write down your non-negotiable costs such as accommodation first. Next allow yourself 1 to 2 home comforts such as decent beer or quilted loo roll so you are more likely to stick to your budget. Finally research the cheapest way possible to fit all your other expenses in. Food needn’t be expensive. Check out Thrifty Lesley’s Meal Plans she has hundreds of recipes on her website that show you how to eat really well for not a lot of money. Her meal plans are based on spending just £1 per day on food and they look absolutely delicious.
#3 Milk your student status
Take full advantage of student discounts! If you need to buy a new computer for university wait till you get yourself a student discount card. Your student discount will net you over £300 off the price of a new Mac plus a free pair of wireless Beats headphones. Clothes shops such as New Look and Top Shop offer a year round 10% discount to students but during the first month of a new school year it is often boosted to 20% off. There are so many discounts available to students it is impossible to list them all.
There are two student discount schemes running, the first is NUS Extra and the second UNiDAYS. NUS Extra costs £12 per year but you will easily make that back and more in savings using its discounts throughout the year. NUS Extra is widely recognised and is often accepted by local independent stores too. The UNiDAYS app is free but it isn’t as well recognised as the NUS Extra card however it is easier to use for online purchases.
I personally recommend signing up to both discount schemes, that way you get the best of both worlds. For more information on UNiDAYS and to sign up you can click here. To nab yourself a NUS Extra card click here.
Do you already use student discounts? If so let me know how much you’ve saved so far in the comments below!
#4 Yes you really can afford it!
It might seem like a crazy idea to put yourself into debt at such a young idea and normally I would never advocate such an idea but there are a few reasons why in this case, yes you really can afford it!
You do not pay up front
You do not need to pay up front so if your or your families financial situation isn’t great don’t panic. All of your tuition fees and most of your living costs will be covered by your student loans.
What about paying it back though?
What if you don’t get a great job straight out of uni? Well this is the important bit, none of your student loan needs to be paid back until you are earning at least £21,000 per year. If you earn less than this magic figure you pay nothing, zilch, zip, nada.
What about if you earn over £21k?
If you earn over £21k, do you have to then pay it all back at once? Well no. You only pack back at a rate of 9% of everything you earn over the £21,000 threshold. If you earn £22k a year, that’s a thousand pounds more than the threshold so you pay back 9% of £1k which is £90 per year. £90 per year is £1.73 a week, a Starbucks coffee costs more than that.
If you never earn over £21k a year you never pay a penny back. After 30 years whatever is left of your student loan is wiped. As you can see what you actually pay back is a tiny proportion of what you earn and is nothing to worry about.
Not all debt is made equal
The debt accumulated from going to university isn’t the same as the debt from buying a brand new car on finance. By going to university you are investing in your future. Dependent on your degree choice you could be vastly increasingly your yearly income, graduates earn up to £10,000 per year more on average than those without degrees.
I hope you find these tips helpful! If you have any questions do please ask. Good luck at uni!